From Bob Woodward's MasterClass

How Watergate's Mark Felt Became Deep Throat

Bob reveals how he developed his relationship with Mark Felt, the source who became known as "Deep Throat" during the Watergate scandal.

Topics include: Meeting the Ultimate Source • Covert Communication • Why Mark Felt Talked • One Source Will Not Tell You the Complete Story • Protecting a Valuable Source

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Bob reveals how he developed his relationship with Mark Felt, the source who became known as "Deep Throat" during the Watergate scandal.

Topics include: Meeting the Ultimate Source • Covert Communication • Why Mark Felt Talked • One Source Will Not Tell You the Complete Story • Protecting a Valuable Source

Bob Woodward

Teaches Investigative Journalism

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Mark Felt as the source was an accident. I was in the Navy, worked for the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Moore, and one of the things he asked me to do is take documents over to the White House on a number of occasions. So I was in my Navy lieutenant's uniform, went to the NSC and sat outside some of the offices. And one day, there was somebody sitting next to me who had on a perfect suit, a white shirt, gray hair, and had an air of authority about him. And I introduced myself, and he said his name was Mark Felt from the FBI. We waited a long time, so I found out that he had somewhat of a similar background. And I was taking graduate courses at GW. I thought I was going to go to law school. He was a lawyer, gone to law school. And I got his phone number. And because I was this lost soul kind of, he was a career counselor and helped me. And I called him a couple of times for advice. He helped me in a story where the FBI wanted to get out-- that the would be assassin of Governor Wallace, Arthur Bremer, was somebody who'd acted alone. And so he gave me tips and clues. He was not a volunteer. I had to really push him a number of times. He would help. It was like a short wave radio broadcast. He'd come in clear and then he would be vague. Then Watergate was a key day. June 1772 was the burglary. Worked on the story with the group. They said in the address books that two of the burglars was the entry W. House-H. Hunt or one was H. Hunt-W. House. Sounded like the White House. I finally got Hunt on the phone. I said, how come your name was in the address books of two of these burglars? And he was shocked and shouted out, good god, slammed down the phone, and left town. There was a certain packing my bags quality to his voice. And now, I can have your name and my address book and go, commit a crime. That doesn't mean you're involved. So I called Mark Felt at the office and asked him about Hunt, and what he said was very important. And Felt was kind of running the Watergate investigation in these early days. He said, oh yes, he's implicated. You won't be unfair to him by doing a story about his connection to these burglars. That was a safety net and a cushion for me. You can just do the story, OK. The name is here, but he said, look, this guy's a chief suspect. He was involved. I didn't need to say and did not say in this story, a source says Howard Hunt's a key suspect, but that was the unspoken, unarticulated deep background which gave me confidence, and in the end, gave confidence to the editors of the Washington Post. Mark Felt was talking on deep background, and that meant I couldn't even indicate there was a source. The managing editor at the Post, Howard Simons, heard about this and gave him the name Deep Throat, which was a pornographic movie at that time-- deep from the deep background,...

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Bob Woodward was just 29 when he changed a nation. His Watergate reporting with Carl Bernstein helped expose the corruption of the Nixon presidency. Two Pulitzer Prizes and nineteen best-selling books later, the legendary journalist is teaching his first-ever online class for anyone who wants to find the truth. Learn to investigate a story, interview sources, and understand how the news is written. The next history-making story might be yours.

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Woodward emphasizes how the discipline of traditional journalism must be used to validate and add credibility to electronic media in ultra-short news cycles.

Great insight into life as an investigative journalist as well as his biggest stories. Enjoyed it.

Woodward presents a tour de force of process, results, triumphs and limitations. We can only hope this spawns a new generation of reporters as diligent and persistent as he has been.

This class explains the underpinnings of the importance of veracity in news reporting today. As consumers or providers of news today, the education Bob Woodward provides here should be a call to action to all of us about what we should be and what we should expect from reporters and as reporters. I can't praise this class enough.

Comments

A fellow student

When news sources continually get information wrong and have to run corrections or maybe apologize for incorrect reporting what do you call it? Maybe "fake news"?

Kimberly S.

I certainly understand the importance of protecting our sources but I am concerned about the current climate where people cry "fake news" when hard truths are exposed. What can we do to defend what remains of our free press when masses of hysterical people like those drummed up by Trump come to lynch reporters and their sources?

Ulf J.

One of the most exciting stories in this entire Watergate deal is undoubtedly Deep Through. I remember the late night in Sweden a lot - when an email came from Washington Post. And then the exciting issue was announced by Deep Through. This mail came on June 1, 2005. I have visited the Watergate building on several occasions. From the beginning there was a nice cafe on the bottom of this large complex, and there I ate lunch on a few occasions. I then went on to Kennedy Center which is across the street. On one occasion, I visited a Rotary Group in the capital and became acquainted with a woman whose lawyer was in Wastergate. Woman asked if I wanted to visit Watergate ??? GUESS if I want it. She drove her car and parked in the basement. It was in this basement I assumed that the burglars had been in and I thought "I saw all the thieves at once", although it was more than 40 years later, but what can not the imagination help with. EXCITING

Sunny N.

Yes, it took many sources to create the picture, something like a jigsaw puzzle. Journalists practicing their craft at the highest level discovered and protected the missing pieces.

John S.

For decades the subject of “Deep Throat” was a very sexy story. Today, I think the valuable lessons from this chapter are two-fold: 1) Relationships are critical to storytelling (whether it’s on or off the record) and, 2) Protecting sources is the foundation of building long-term relationships in which honesty and character are highly valued.

Tylia F.

When doing the assignment, I'll better understand the listen, but I feel like when it comes to keeping a source save it's hard to keep them safe because of social media and the way the press is today.​

Gone W.

So when the FBI comes up and hands you the Holy Grail, it's a pass saying the high road is yours from this day forward. This is almost mythical. I find these classes so fascinating and inspirational. Hearing this lesson, in addition to Watergate, in my mind it's not such a stretch to think that foreign interests could skew elections just as well. When the suspicion that Russia had a hand in our presidential election first hit, I recall hearing metal detectors throughout the land getting powered up. I really enjoy the first hand accounts illustrating his points about the job. Just as an aside, I think it was a masterstroke to call him "Deep Throat". In addition to what Mr Woodward said, I think 'dirty tricks' and blowing the whistle have a certain connection. I don't think anybody who heard the name could un-hear it, especially at the time when that movie was also creating a buzz by making porn a bit more publicly sensational.

Richard C.

More timeless words of wisdom, re Mark Felt's willingness to spill the beans: "Like all human actions, it has many motives." No surprise that Mr. Woodward quotes Dostoyevsky in this lesson -- because this is the stuff that great fiction is made of. (Although Ben Franklin is the original author of "three people can only keep a secret, if two of them are dead.")

Vickie R.

YES! That's what I want to say. "enuogh of this CHICKeN SHIT and give the the story alreaey!" Don't make me GUeSS aout my famiy bacround. I'm 54 and i'm not gong to live forever. Did some doctors i grew up conduct psychoogical eperiment with uspuspect chidren an adlts like ma and my mom? Also are phone have been tapped since the 1970s we know this for sure. We often hear our prvate conversation at home repeated again outsde loud enough for us to hear it. Very sinister thing going on here and I need some HELP with this story. Most tell me CIA is involved in MK Ultra experiments not the FBI. But maybe i could meet someone from the FBI to help me out. Police won't help me at all. When I go to loal station they pretty much dismiss me as haing a "vivid imagination HA. Not true though. I wish there was a Mark Felts character out there for me to finaly solve this puzzloe.